Coach Von Washington got what he wanted Friday night.
His West Ottawa basketball team played tough defense against a fast and physical Muskegon squad and pulled off a 50-35 win in front of a large crowd in the Martin E. Ball Gymnasium.
The win moved West Ottawa to 4-3 in the O-K Red Lakeshore and into a five-way tie for first place with Holland, Zeeland, Muskegon and Muskegon Reeths-Puffer. The Panthers are 6-7 overall.
Though he acknowledged that first place was a nice place to be, Washington said it was more a matter of how his team got there that was important.
"Patience was going to be the key (against Muskegon)," Washington said. "A ballgame like this, 50-35, we'll take it. When we were getting up in the 70s and 80s is when we were losing games."
That wasn't about to happen Friday. Twelve first-half turnovers by each team and some poor shooting on both ends of the floor left West Ottawa with a 21-19 lead at halftime.
The Panthers relinquished that lead for a moment in the middle of the third quarter. Brian Hunter's 3-point basket with 5 minutes, 33 seconds to play in the period put Muskegon ahead 24-23, but Tim Zeerip tied the game when he made 1-of-2 free throws a few seconds later.
Muskegon's Ronald Johnson scored off an inbounds play with 4:28 to play in the third period, only to have West Ottawa senior Kevin Ludwig tie the score at 26-26 with 3:54 remaining in the third.
Muskegon would not score again until the 3:56 mark of the fourth quarter -- 8 minutes and 30 seconds later. By that time, West Ottawa had increased the margin to 12 and the outcome had been decided.
"We got a lot of good contributions from a lot of kids," Washington said. "We play a lot of kids and we're asking those kids that when they're in there, they play their hearts out. I thought they did a tremendous job tonight."
To counter Anthony Crumps's game-high 14 points and 11 more from Johnson, Washington got a balanced scoring effort from his players.
Preston Burrell came off the bench and made his minutes count with a team-best nine points.
James Tiemeyer scored eight points and had seven rebounds, and Rueben Powell and Ludwig added seven points each.
Nick Watts, who missed last Friday's nine-point loss to Grandville with the flu, showed he was healthy again with six points, four blocked shots and four rebounds.
Powell played his second game and got his first start for West Ottawa after transferring from Grand Rapids Catholic Central. He had to sit out the first semester this year because of transfer rules.
"They (Big Reds) were really gambling and sending two or three guys out to the perimeter," Washington said. "I thought (Powell) starting relieved a lot of pressure right away.
"Muskegon plays in-your-face defense, and when we played them the first time (a 12-point loss), that was really effective. But this time, guys like Tiemeyer and Burrell were waiting down there and catching passes off penetration and scoring."
Contact Lee Lamberts at firstname.lastname@example.org or (616) 546-4271.